The British Basketball League title race ain’t over yet. Mersey Tigers sustained a shock 78-76 loss at Guildford on Saturday night as rivals Newcastle survived an overtime thriller against Worcester.

It cuts the Liverpool side's lead at the top of the standings to just two points, having played one game more, with the championship now set to be decided on the final weekend of the season.

However Tony Garbelotto's men were left to rue a blown opportunity to tighten their grip on top spot after building a huge cushion in Guildford when David Aliu inspired the visitors to a 12-0 run which helped push them 38-27 at half-time.

However, Guildford made some inroads in the third quarter, a 9-3 run narrowing the deficit before Mike Martin’s (left) three-point play trimmed Mersey’s advantage to 47-45. After the Tigers responded with a 9-0 burst, the Heat gave themselves hope with a 7-1 run as Dean Williams made three of three from the line having been fouled shooting a buzzer-beating three-pointer. But they found themselves in a hole once in the fourth as James Jones's three-pointer made the score 68-57 with six minutes to play.

Medlock made another three-pointer as the hosts made a charge, a 12-2 run putting them 76-74 in front with a minute to play. And It was Williams who iced the game as he made 2/2 from the line with 20 seconds to play.

The Heat were led by Ralph Hegamin's 19 points with Jones firing a game-high 24 for the league leaders.

In the Midlands, the Newcastle kept their title hopes alive as they secured a 79-78 win against the Worcester Wolves, with Reggie Jackson scoring the winning basket with five seconds of overtime left.

The Eagles looked to have the game won in regulation with a 58-64 lead within the last two minutes, but six straight points tied the game on Justin Dobbins' basket within the final minute. Jackson scored for the Eagles with 48 seconds remaining, but it was Rod Middleton who forced overtime with a basket with 12 seconds left on the clock to tie the game at 66.

And it was the Wolves that started the overtime period the quicker, as Middleton maintained that momentum with the first six points of the extra period. After two and a half minutes with no score, Charles Smith took it upon himself to drag the Eagles back as he netted five quick points but they still trailed 76-73 heading into the final minute.

Fab Flournoy made it a one-point game, before Smith's free-throws gave the Eagles the lead at 76-77 with 10 seconds to play. However, he fouled Dobbins who made two of two at the line to give the Wolves the advantage. But that only set the stage for Jackson to secure a precious win for Newcastle who can draw level on points with Mersey with a win at Plymouth on Sunday.

Elsewhere, surging Plymouth Raiders – led by 23 from Lehmon Colbert – took over fifth place as they beat Cheshire Jets for the second time in a week with a 102-94 victory in Devon.

Jets’ guard Jeremy Bell had a game-high 28 points but his side scored only once in the final three minutes as the hosts pulled away to clinch a play-off berth.

Leicester Riders maintained their play-off push as they beat the Essex Pirates 88-70, making it eight straight home wins stretching back to the middle of January.

JR Blount led the Riders with 25 points and 8 assists, while Jo Harris had a double-double of 17 points and 12 rebounds. Colin Sing led the league’s bottom side with 18 points.

Photos: Basketviews

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